What Matt Bollinger can teach us about figure painting

All of our days are filled with a series of small events. With the advent of insta stories and social media we can now flip through all these memories in real time. Jumping around in points in time with ease. Matt Bollinger’s paintings seem to capture these moments through the lens of someone akin to a documentary film maker. And it’s not a mistake that Bollinger has recently begun making his own animated films from his paintings.


For this assignment I’ve asked you to take a picture of a figure in an exterior environment. The figure can be doing anything. Waiting for a tram, or eating ice cream. It doesn’t matter. Since you are photographing a stranger, your options can obviously be limited. But even within a multitude of snapshots you will be able to find small compositions which begin to work. Consider cropping your images, and zooming in to certain sections. Maybe the head and expression in a photo are terrible, but the hands are good. Try to find these small compositions. Look for some action happening in photos, whether it is someone taking a cigarette out of a box, or putting something into their purse. See if it’s possible for you to craft some sort of narrative, even with a simple snapshot. You are capturing people, but you are also capturing very common every day activities.


Feel free to also use yourself as a subject. Your hands can come into the photos, or your reflection can be in a mirror. Let your stories that make up the diary of your life begin to seep into the work. And as a general rule, the less staged the better for this assignment.

Also, if you haven’t done so already. Follow and look at the artists on the instagram for the course.

Look at the different sections there. Landscape, Figure in interior, Abstract, Pop , etc. and think about which one of these subjects resonates best with you, and what artist/style appeals the most to you.